New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar may not be the only one opting to stay the "hell out of the country" during the Commonwealth Games. Many residents of Delhi are also planning vacations abroad, especially to south-east Asia and Europe, during the October mega event.
Tour operators say many Dilliwallas are in no mood to witness the Games, to be held from October 3-14, as recent reports of large-scale corruption in the preparations has led to doubts about successful hosting of the event.
"People are sceptic about the event. The reports of corruption have affected the enthusiasm levels of many. Many people are worried over what may happen here then," said Rajinder Giri, senior consultant with BCD Travels.
"I have had nearly 20 bookings so far where people are planning vacations with family and friends during the Games. There are six to seven persons from my office itself who are planning holidays during that time," he said.
And these are not just about families and friends, but corporates are also letting their staff take a break during the event which will be hosted in India for the first time.
"Most of the people, even corporates, are heading towards Europe or south-east Asia, particularly Bangkok. And secondly, there are a lot of events that will go on across the world during that time. Take the Grand Prix (race) in Malaysia for instance," said Ketaki Behl, Director of Indraprastha Travels.
Tour operators have offered special travel packages for holidayers during this period. And bookings for the period are boosting revenues for such operators.
"There have been a lot of new packages for that period. We had started selling packages as early as in June-July. Right now, we are receiving last minute booking calls," Behl said.
While Bangkok, Malaysia and Singapore remain popular as international destinations, travellers with budget constraints are opting for weekend getaways to nearby hill resorts and wildlife sanctuaries.
"Goa is really a popular destination among domestic tourists with lesser budgets," said Aneesh Seigell, proprietor of A2Z Travel Planners.
"I receive nearly 10 calls every day regarding bookings during the Games period. This is a good time for business. People are thinking of taking leave during that period," he said.
"People are not sure about school holidays. Government offices may also be closed during that time. Once both of these are confirmed, people will confirm more bookings by then," he added.
Aiyar, a vocal critic of organising the Games in Delhi, had said earlier this month that he will be "hell out of the country" during the October event as he is no mood to witness it.